Bali: On Ethical Tourism

Waiting for the meeting to start. We were all in a good mood it seems with lots of smiles around. It’s always an honor to sit behind the country’s name.

All day Saturday was spent at the conference. We met many professionals from government, the private sector and civil society.

H.E. Mr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) delivering his address at the Conference.

From the presentations, it became clear to me that ethical development is a  key issue in tourism development.

Ms Tricia Barnett, Director, Tourism Concern, United Kingdom making her presentation. She had a powerful message on the plight of and disadvantages faced by workers in tourism establishments. The exploitation through tourism.

Many countries are now making a paradigm shift from a bigger profit margin to sustainable development which is inclusive and innovative.

We heard about how one hotel in East Java, Indonesia has very successfully banned smoking in their hotel rooms and still able to operate at capacity. The significance of this is that Indonesia is within the top 5 heaviest smoking nations in Asia and 2nd to the Philippines within the ASEAN region. However, despite this, the hotel in Surabaya became the flagship for ethical development in tourism in that area. There were cynics who said the hotel will not make it but it proved them absolutely wrong.

Some smoking trivia, the Jakarta Post reported on 31st May, 2012 that, ” Sixty-five million Indonesians spend Rp 100 trillion (US$10.4 billion) to buy 225 billion cigarettes every year, doctors say.

Even worse, the number of smokers in the nation has risen by 0.9 percent every year between 2000 and 2008, according to the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI).”

Some of the speakers at the Conference.

The conference concluded with the declaration of a Global Code of Ethics in tourism development for Asia and the Pacific region.

Details of this regional conference can be read on the the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) website. You can also download the ‘Spirit of Bali Statement’ which was the major outcome of the Asia Pacific regional meeting:  ‘UNWTO Seminar on Tourism Ethics for Asia and the Pacific: Responsible Tourism and its Socio-Economic Impact on Local Communities’.

The meeting was jointly hosted by the UNWTO and the Government of Indonesia.

The quality of speakers and the material presented at this meeting was very high. Services and the hospitality we experienced was absolutely A-1.

It appears that countries in Asia are moving towards sustainable tourism but they may be a lone voice in the wilderness of luxurious hotel development and the vagaries of tastes of the touring public. But am also encouraged by the show of support for sustainable and more inclusive tourism development at this meeting in Bali.

This is an indication that PNG’s tourism offer is one that should include the collaboration and cooperation of all service providers who will underpin the growth of the tourism industry in PNG. The service providers span a cross section of the society and the development sector which includes by and large, infrastructure, law and order, agriculture, health and education.

Participation of local communities depends very much on the time dedicated to making them aware of the cost of tourism and how it will impact on their lives and their livelihoods. What are their views on such things as water usage, land usage, the impact on their tribal and traditional practices and so on. We  need more anthropological data and support that will underpin ethical development.

The speakers with their gifts at the conclusion of the seminar.

The use of technology for ethical tourism development is inevitable and can drive awareness amongst/of tourists/the touring population as well as the tourism product owners.

A fortuitous opportunity this was to cultivate the necessary regional and international networks that have the potential to provide much needed technical and strategic advice and support for capacity building and so on and so forth.